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Main phase employment and support allowance

What is main phase employment and support allowance (ESA)?

At the end of the assessment phase of employment and support allowance a decision will be made about your eligibility for ESA.

If you have failed the work capability assessment (WCA) you can appeal and continue to claim ESA at the assessment phase rate or you can apply for jobseeker’s allowance instead.

If you have passed the  WCA you will move into the main phase as a member of either the work-related activity group or the support group.

What do I get paid in the main phase of employment and support allowance (ESA)?

In the main phase you get paid a basic allowance which is the same as the amount you would receive if you were on jobseeker’s allowance, but at the 25 and over rate, regardless of your age.  If your claim started before 3rd April 2017 you will get an additional component, either the work-related activity component or the support component. If your claim started after 3rd April, you will only get an additional component if you are placed in the support group. 

Will I get tested again once I'm in the main phase of employment and support allowance (ESA)?

Yes, everyone has their claim reviewed regularly.  How often this happens will depend on the recommendation of the Maximus health care professional who carried out your medical, if you had one, or reviewed the evidence about you if you didn't. Most claimants will be checked at least once a year, though this doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to attend another medical, it may be done on paper evidence alone.

How long can I stay in the main phase of employment and support allowance (ESA)?

You can only receive contributory ESA in the work-related activity group for a maximum of 365 days.

This does not apply to people receiving income-related ESA or to claimants who are placed in the support group or if you can qualify for contributory ESA again using different contribution years:

  • You may be entitled to income-related ESA and should seek advice on this or contact ESA and ask to complete an ESA3 form.
  • You may qualify to be placed in the support group.
  • It is also possible to claim contributory ESA again and qualify for another 365 days’ benefit; if you make a claim and the years which are used for assessing your National Insurance Contributions are different years to those used in your previous claim.